Researchers at University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory have developed a polymer membrane that, when fired ultraviolet light at, causes the formation of ozone, just like in the upper atmosphere.
The Green energy revolution isn’t just about eliminating fossil fuels. To be sure, this is the direction we need to go, but in the meantime, a number of technologies are coming together to increase efficiency and prevent harmful gases from getting into the atmosphere.
Filters and permeable membranes are one way to control the purity of practically anything fluid, including water, petroleum, natural gas, even air. Hydrogen fuel cells work on this principle, using a membrane that allows just the electron to pass, while the larger hydrogen atoms must stay behind. Hydrogen protons are eventually reunited with electrons after they pass through the electrical system.
By using membranes of differing porosity and tapping on either side or in between them, you can separate anything by molecular size, such as separating the different gases in air, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, or the different hydrocarbon chains that make up raw petroleum.
For refiners, these membranes can reduce the amount of energy they expend on typical distillation techniques. For manufacturers, such membranes can remove carbon dioxide and other gases for sequestration.
Green energy via permeable membranes isn’t far off, but manufacturers need to develop membrane technology that is very accurate in porosity and allow sufficient flow.
While ultraviolet-induced ozone oxidation would normally be considered undesirable, in the case of the polymer membrane, it actually causes the polymer to become more dense. This density keeps the membrane permeable to specific molecules while effectively blocking out larger ones.